First Year Q&A


The Department of Housing and Residence Life now manages just a few short of 3,000 beds in what we refer to as “on campus” housing in a variety of types of lower and upper division housing accommodations. In addition, the department manages some "rental" properties in the surrounding neighborhood for student housing (about 15 houses and four apartment complexes) which, we refer to as “off campus rentals.” When a housing function of a University reaches this size, the days of one person sitting alone for a few weeks with multi-paged paper housing applications/Rental Agreements and hand assigning roommates, housemates, suite mates, apartment mates becomes a thing of the past. With a housing function of this size, Universities find they must automate the process itself. When such automation is designed and implemented, it is done so with care for the humans such automated decisions affect. It is also done so in ways which maintain the integrity of the types of decisions a human used to make when the process was done that way.

Gonzaga University’s housing department reached that point a little more than five years ago, as we were successful in an almost decade long campaign to grow in size.

The system used to manage this important function is sophisticated, but is managed by humans in the department through multiple steps in the room assignments process. Before messages are sent to families, but after the system has assigned rooms, people in the department of housing spend hours checking the decisions the system made to be sure of the integrity of the “run” the system just made.

One part of the room assignments process has not changed. Even when the beds on campus were less than 1,500 and the University owned no off campus properties, and assignments were made by humans sitting in a room for weeks on end and a lot of pencils, paper and erasers, there were families who did not like the assignment given and that asked for understanding and intervention, and questioned the judgment of the person(s) making such assignments. Today, the University still stands ready to supply that same human response to families which find themselves questioning a specific assignment. We can not promise success with all requests, but can promise a real person responds and stays on the “look out” for an opportunity to honor a specific request as we march toward opening day each fall.

Common Questions and their Answers:

I wanted to live in Catherine Monica like all the other freshmen. Why can’t I?

Catherine Monica Hall houses 360 students, mostly freshmen. Incoming freshman classes right now are between 1050 and 1250 students. In recent years, closer to 600 of those students ask for Catherine Monica Hall. While we have not studied it this year, in previous years sometimes anyone who applied after about April 10th, did not receive placement in Catherine Monica because enough students who applied prior to that date wanted Catherine Monica to fill it before the assignment process got to applicants on the date you applied.

How did I get a building assignment that I never really asked for or which was not my first choice?

When the application was completed on line and submitted, you shared a variety of information through that application:

  • You were asked to suggest your top three choices of building
  • You had an opportunity to answer about 20 questions regarding preferences ranging from personal habits to background music in your room
  • You had an opportunity to request a specific roommate by name
  • You were able to suggest a preference in room/building style
    • singles, premium singles, double rooms
    • co-ed versus single gendered buildings

In addition, the date you submitted your application established the priority the automated assignment system gave to working through your preferences amidst 1100+/- other incoming freshmen applications. If you did not receive your top choice, then a bed in that choice was no longer available once the computer got to your application in relation to the time of day and the day you submitted it.

If I don't get the building I want, I'm not sure I will enjoy Gonzaga and I may not want to attend.

Our buildings are not what make for good community.  Rather, it’s the wonderful people who inhabit them that come together in community and build that great experience, which includes you.  As such, we love every single one of our residence halls and stand behind them as great places to be.  It is not so much the building as the roommate and floor mates that make for an exciting year, a place you can call home, with good friends.

We understand your disappointment.  We really do!  Most of us had roommates in college also, and lived in residence halls.  We remember that first time we entered the first residence hall we were assigned.  We encourage you to reflect upon why you are attending college and reposition housing in your thoughts as a necessary part of being on campus and taking classes and getting the education in preparation for an exciting future, but not the primary reason you have chosen to attend Gonzaga University.  You will have multiple years to change to different types of housing options as you embark on this experience.  You most likely will not spend all four years, or even your first two in the same building.

Why can’t I find out who my roommate is before your next correspondence in early August?

Sometimes, some students are on a waiting list to still get a building assignment so we are not ready to commit to “anyone” beyond a “tentative” building assignment.

Sometimes, students are still making decisions not to come after all.  We wait a little longer to tell you because that makes it a better chance that person is actually going to be the same person at check in…still no guarantees, however.

Some students make too many attempts over Facebook, Twitter, and any of a number of other electronic means to get to know roommates and make faulty assumptions about the person based upon these electronic means of communication.  If we limit the number of weeks this can occur, we find fewer early roommate dislikes.

So getting closer to our opening day than July, helps us and you in a number of ways.  As tempting as it is to want to know earlier rather than later, you will have plenty of time to get to know your roommate and we hope and encourage you to reserve the majority of your opinions about that person to when you get to meet in person at check in.  A person is always, always a more complicated and multifaceted individual than can be reduced to a few words on some electronic media.